On October 15th, 2014, thousands of high school juniors sat down to take the PSAT/NMSQT exam. The exam, structured like a typical SAT, is more than just another standardized test — it is a qualifying exam for the prestigious National Merit Scholarship. Only the students who score in the top 99th percentile qualify as National Merit Semifinalists, and in Georgia, students needed to score a 218 or higher to qualify. In September, schools were notified which students received National Merit status. North Springs Charter High School had three students who are National Merit Semifinalists: Luke Muehring, Abigail Szabo, and Lilly Webster from the Class of 2016.
Luke Muehring is not just an accomplished National Merit Semifinalist and dedicated student — he is also a competitive rock climber. Most days after school he trains and climbs from 5 to 8 pm, and he still finds time to do his homework. Muehring has competed in many national tournaments for rock climbing and even attended the World Youth Championships in Italy last month. In addition to rock climbing, Muehring also cares about music. A seasoned clarinet player, Muehring has experience playing in honor bands such as the Allstate Honor Band. And when he’s not playing music, Muehring “tends to listen to a mix of music, which may be Drake or Taylor Swift.”
Between practicing rock climbing and tutoring students through the SAT tutoring service he started during his junior year, Luke Muehring also enjoys working with technology. “I like messing around with electronics,” Muehring shared. “I even built my own computer last year!” The senior intends to study computers and engineering in college. Although he does not know exactly what career he would like to pursue, Muehring hopes that ten years from now he will “achieve a financially stable status and have numerous competitive titles under [his] belt in climbing.”
Abigail Szabo is a very committed student both inside the classroom and after school. President of the National Art Honor Society, Szabo is also involved in student government, the Spartan Spirit Squad, National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, and the Jewish Culture Club at North Springs. When she is not busy with extracurriculars or studying for her six AP classes, Szabo engages in many creative outlets. “I love to draw and paint if I have time,” she explains. “I’ve [also] been recreationally playing the piano for 10 years now.”
Like fellow National Merit Semifinalist Luke Muehring, Szabo is also interested in pursuing engineering. “I want to study engineering, though I’m undecided on my major,” she expounds. “I’d like to get my PhD, probably in physics or engineering, and then go into the field of engineering.” The senior hopes to attend University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern University, or Georgia Tech next year. But despite all of the exciting things in her horizon, Szabo believes that North Springs has played an integral role in setting her educational foundations. “North Springs has really given me the opportunity to take my education into my own hands and to be responsible for myself,” she notes. “I’ve really grown up over the years here.”
Lilly Webster, another gifted North Springs senior and National Merit Semifinalist, is a Science Olympiad team captain, ceramics student, member of the Maker’s Club, and recent addition to the fencing club. Outside of school and extracurriculars, the bright senior enjoys reading books, creating art, playing video games, and collecting interesting items. Webster also considers herself a creative person. “I’m practically entirely made of strange quirks,” she explains. “If you ever meet me, ask me about ‘the weird thing I can do with my fingers’ and you will not be disappointed.”
Webster intends to study astrophysics or a related field in college; however, she also wants to continue pursuing art. “I want to be an Astrophysicist, though I never want to stop making art,” states Webster. Ten years from now, Webster predicts she will still be in school getting her doctorate in physics, but hopes to have an established career by then. Despite her impressive plans for the future, Webster believes that her roots in North Springs are very significant. “[North Springs] has given me a lot of opportunities and self-confidence that will make it easier for me to get where I want to go in life.”
North Springs Charter High School is very proud of our three National Merit Semifinalists, and we wish them good luck as they embark on the next leg of the process of becoming National Merit Finalists.